It may surprise those who know me to learn that showing hospitality by welcoming others into my home has not always been a joy. When I was a young bride, my heart did not always join in with the ‘welcoming’ aspect of hospitality as I raced through preparations in a panic. Fellowship may have been at the top of my motives for having company for dinner, but running close behind that goal were insecurity, perfectionism, and the desire to impress. I gave so much effort to planning, cooking, and presenting the perfect menu—with babies and toddlers in tow—that by the time our company arrived I was too wrung-out to enjoy our guests. There are whole evenings and conversations that I cannot remember, other than the stress leading up to them.
So why have company at all? Why jump through the hoops if I’m only going to end with a messy kitchen, a mild headache, and no appreciable memory of the evening?
Because the Bible tells me to.
A Fellowship of Love
Well, not exactly. What the Bible tells me has nothing to do with anxiety and the charade driven by insecurity, perfectionism, and the desire to impress others. What the Bible tells me is to welcome others joyfully. Why? Because I have been welcomed into the blessed fellowship of God himself through his Son Jesus Christ.
In his first epistle, John proclaims the gospel “so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1–3). Sisters, this is the purpose of the good news of great joy—that we would be drawn into fellowship with God! Our fellowship isn’t only with God, but also with one another. And our fellowship is set apart from all other relationships, because it is transformed by love. This love doesn’t originate in us; our love for God and for one another originates in God’s great and merciful love for us.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. . . . In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:7, 9–11)
Hospitality as Stewardship
We are a people who have been transformed by the love of God. But how does this love work itself into hospitality? Among his exhortations for godly living Paul tells us to “seek to show hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). Peter places hospitality between the exhortation to keep loving one another earnestly and the mandate to steward the gifts God has graciously given us—to the end that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace . . . in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 4:8–11)
This is what the Bible tells me to do. As a steward of the gracious gifts God has given me, and as an expression of my earnest love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am to seek opportunities to show hospitality. And I am to do so not only without grumbling, but also without panicking, because God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Insecurity shouldn’t plague my hospitality because I am secure in Christ and as one who has been born of God I will never lose his love. Perfectionism and the desire to impress fall away when my goal is God’s glory, and not my own.
Over the years, by God’s grace, we have made many precious memories and strengthened bonds of Christian fellowship around our table. These memories have nothing to do with how clean my baseboards were (they probably weren’t) or whether we were eating off my Grandmother’s china or a random collection of paper plates. From meals that took days to prepare to pizza delivered at the last minute, the importance of the food paled in comparison to the value and joy of loving one another because of the love that God has poured into our hearts through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sisters, God is glorified in our loving fellowship with one another. Hospitality doesn’t need to be difficult, or panic-inducing. Hospitality is a gift of God and a means of strengthening the fellowship among the community of believers. So, I encourage you, as good stewards of God’s grace, keep loving one another earnestly, and seek to show hospitality.
About the Author:
Barbaranne reads, writes, cooks, runs, and shoots an occasional photo in Texas. She and her husband Jim are the parents of five of the neatest people they know and grandparents to the first two of (hopefully) many grandchildren. She has been blogging ever since she accidentally signed up for a blog while attempting to comment on a friend’s blog post and figured, “Why not?” She now blogs at Grateful and Women of Purpose, a ministry of the women of her church. Barbaranne and Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas, where she leads a Bible study for women in the hope that she and they may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.